By: Jess Molina
As a reformed shopaholic, I reflect back on the number of times where I bought a new outfit for a Saturday night out that I never wore again. Whatever happened to this collection of polyester dresses I sometimes wonder, and why did I feel that urge to be seen in something new?
Perhaps it was my desire to be part of an industry I loved. Fashion is one of my favourite forms of self-expression, and the rise of social media meant that for the first time in the digital age, street style and the sharing of outfits, became accessible to anyone with a phone and internet connection. We were suddenly in control of sharing our personal style via blogs, Facebook and digital photo albums like the old lookbook.nu, waiting and refreshing for the ‘likes’ to roll in.
I want to tell that version of myself to take a step back from the polyester LBD, look at my overflowing closet instead and that I don’t need ‘newness’ to convey my style. The pieces I loved then are still in my wardrobe now, elevating an outfit, and looking as stylish as they were a decade ago.
But behavioural and societal change takes time and I’m still in the process of unlearning a lot of the fashion ideals that shaped me.
As an impressionable 12-year-old at the cinemas with my mum watching the Lizzie McGuire Movie, there was a particular scene where Lizzie was shamed by the most popular girl in school for wearing the same outfit. I carried these seven words with me throughout my young adulthood: “Lizzie McGuire, you are an outfit repeater!”
I now know that outfit repeating is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact it’s quite the opposite. When you think about it in the context of fiction and how in real life, no one actually pays that much attention to us repeating our outfits - unless of course you’re a royal and the media are turning it into a click-bait news story - nor will anyone have the gall to say this to our faces. And if they do, then are they really someone we want to be associated with?
Thankfully we’re now seeing a shift in behaviour and attitude towards being seen in constant newness as the world realises the many ways that fast fashion is causing harm to the environment and the unsustainable business model that it operates under.
In 2021 fast fashion giants who have ridden our social media induced insecurities and made it financially possible and even ‘fashionable’ to shop the ‘What’s New’ section each week are finally seeing the table turn. It’s no longer cool to consume in this way.
We see this shift not just in the way we consume product but in how we consume content as well. We are no longer influenced easily. The ‘haul’ videos we were once fascinated by now have an intense cringe factor, and I would much rather devour the endless IG Reels on ‘How to wear a white tee in five ways’ or the classic but still entertaining ‘How to take an outfit from day to night’. And even though we know it’s all in the accessories and a great lipstick, I still like to be reaffirmed.
Our dream wardrobe and outfits have shrunk, the more curated the better. We even dream, and endlessly pin, of a capsule wardrobe that fits neatly on one clothing rack. Minimalism is cool but essentialism is even better.
The most stylish women I know are the ones that have a go-to look. And perhaps the secret to timeless style, after all, lies in outfit repeating. When we genuinely love the clothes we have, we are more inclined to wear them over and over again, finding ways to incorporate them into our outfits because we just love them so much!
It’s about time we celebrate outfit repeating for what it is – wearing the clothes that make us happy.